For those of you who’ve been reading Crayon Writer for a while, you know I strongly want to homeschool or even unschool my now five-year-old daughter. As a single mother, though, I recognize that we need time apart, so I enrolled her in preschool when she was a little older than three.
Preschool worked out off and on, and I still felt that I was primarily homeschooling. I purposely chose preschools that were strongly play-based, so the academics were light. My daughter has been learning to read and do math at home for the most part, and she’s very smart too.
As the big 5 approached, I started interviewing various play-based kindergartens and even the local public school. In the end, I decided to send her back to her preschool so she could continue to play while I taught her at home.
But to my surprise, a couple of weeks ago my little one announced that she wanted to go to kindergarten, not “play” school, and she didn’t want me to teach her at home!! All of a sudden I had to scramble for a school. The play-based kindergarten programs I found were okay, but either far away or had days that were too short.
Believe it or not, despite my strong objections to the “traditional” school philosophy, my daughter will start at a regular, public kindergarten this week! And she’s thrilled. Me…not so much. My issues with traditional schooling involve homework, grades, testing, “socialization” aka peer pressure and bullying/teasing, and extrinsic motivational techniques.
A little background: I have been a substitute teacher (which included several teacher-of-record jobs) for more than 7 years, and I’m currently in teaching certification program. I know how much standards, grades, and tests are stressed, and I’ve seen what negative effects schooling can have on children. Despite my professional aspirations, it seems to me that school is primarily a method to create conforming citizens who tend to go along with the masses. Not what I want for my child.
On the other hand, I went through public schooling, and I came out with a very open and questioning mind, probably because of my parents’ influence. So it’s likely that my daughter will be similar too.
This week will be the beginning of a new adventure. I’m sure I’ll be a regular volunteer at her school (gotta keep an eye on things), and maybe kindergarten won’t suck the fun out of learning (like I imagine it might).
The important thing is that I’m following my daughter’s lead. I’m letting her have a say so in how she wants to be educated (within reason), which is still in the spirit of unschooling. As long as she’s happy and safe, I’ll let her chart her own path. It’s tough being a parent!